Tuesday 28 April 2009

8 months on

Jake was 33 weeks old on Monday, which is, roughly speaking, 8 months old. It seems like yesterday and forever ago at the same time. I can't seem to remember what life was really like and couldn't imagine a life without him. He's definitely here to stay! I do feel that we wasted a lot of time before he arrived and took a LOT for granted, like being able to go out at the drop of a hat, random nights in a pub or restaurant. We used to complain we were bored sometimes at the weekend, so why on earth didn't we go zorbing or take a course in candlemaking or do up an old house. Not that it would be impossible to do (this weekend we're actually going ape for example, it's just that everything takes more thinking about and more time.

Now that Jake is getting bigger, he's requiring more stimulation and the time will come, soon I suspect, when there will not be a chance of getting bored. Our spare time will be all about him and keeping him amused. It's kind of like that now, but his enjoyment will soon become more fun for us too. We went to a playground with my sister, brother in law and their kids recently and met up with another friend who was overseeing his son on the death slide and I'm really looking forward to that. My routine with my boy. Sunday mornings perhaps, although not too early. I hope I don't take it for granted and enjoy it as much as I think I will.

We're in a nice state of denial right now as we're two months away from Jake's next operation. He's a lot of fun and is developing before our eyes and it's taking our mind off of the horrendous journey we have to make at least once more before we can properly relax and put all the cleft stuff behind us. I think because we have a family holiday planned, it's easy to ignore it, but as soon as we're home, it'll hit us. I think this one will be even harder on Jake and us too. Before it was horrible because he was so little and fragile but this time, he's so much more of a little boy who can express himself more. Also, for us, there's no physical payoff; the lip repair was necessary both physically and socially. Socially for him and for us. I am a lot more relaxed now, knowing that we don't need to explain anything to anyone, no one looks twice (other than to coo!), everything's normal in fact. This op is hugely important but it won't change his appearance like the first op did so profoundly. I do think that it will be the start of the next exciting chapter. The one where Jake starts to make more word like noises - he said 'mama' the other day, we swear. It's also the one where he gets suction and can perhaps hold a bottle and learn to feed himself. I think the time between 8 months and 1 year will speed past and before long we'll wishing he was tiny again and trotting out all the usual cliches.

It's been almost a year since I started this blog and although I committed to keeping it up until the second operation, I like to think that I'll carry it on. Why not? Jake's cleft is just one part of his life, it shouldn't define him and in fact it hasn't...Jake is a smiley, happy, funny baby and that's what people always saw and will (I hope) always see. Even before the lip repair his personality was so sunny that his cleft was secondary. Maybe I'm wearing rose tints here already or maybe we just have great friends and family who, through education and upbringing know to see the person first and any 'defect'(God I hate that word) second. As he grows older and experiences life and we get to know him more and more, these set backs will dim and our focus will be entirely elsewhere.

Here's some recent photos.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

I spoke too soon

A blip. A happy blip, but a blip all the same. I should have known not to get too excited about it. The very thought of Jake sleeping every day, or consistently even, until 8am seems absurd given his track record. The important thing is that he can do it when he puts his mind to it.

Sunday morning he was awake, screaming, at 3am and again at 6am. Clare did the feeds as I was, erm, rather 'tired' shall we say, in the wake of some bank holiday weekend frivolities. We stayed at my sister's on Sunday night and he woke at 12.15am and then 5.20am, again screaming.

The screaming tells us it's teeth because he never screams when he wakes up unless it's teeth. In fact he doesn't really wake up unless it's teeth or a cold or something which makes him uncomfortable. So as long as it's teeth (and it is teeth) then it's temporary. Everytime he's had a series of disturbed nights he goes back to his old pattern of going to bed at 7pm and going through but each time a bit later. Last time he came out of his ups and downs was when he started sleeping until 6/6.30 so fingers crossed after this round of torture he'll go until the magic 7am.

We think the second tooth on his upper set is just emerging now which should see him settle a bit more. It's good for him to have matching gnashers top and bottom but I love his little smile with just the one peg peeking through!

Can't remember if I've written about Jake's christening but it's all confirmed for May 10th back at the church we were married at almost 3 years ago. He's getting a separate service so the focus will all be on him. Quite right!

Saturday 11 April 2009

The dawn of a new era?

A very quick update. Jake slept from 7pm to 8am this morning!!!!!! I'm so excited, we were awake before he was. Could this be the beginning of the end, or rather the end of the beginning???

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Sleep. Again.

Time was, when Jake waking up at 5.30 was a result. It meant we'd probably have had 7or so hours' sleep. Then, when he starting going the extra hour to 6.30, we were excitedly anticipating when he would add the last 30 minutes to make the perfect sleep and arrive at the holy grail of 7am.

As you may be gathering, this is (yet) another post moaning about Jake! Yes he's lovely, yes his smile makes us melt, yes, yes, yes, blah, blah, blah, Christ we're so tired...

When he's slept enough, he tends to eat well, nap well, be content and most importantly, sleep well. A happy circle if you will. When he gets up at 5.20am and won't go back to sleep his naps are out of sync, he spits his food out, generally has the arse all day and then sleeps until 5.20am the following morning. Not so happy.

He's definitely old enough for the controlled crying now. He knows exactly how to play us. When he wakes up and does his fake crying, he's bullshitting us. Problem is, it works. It's just not that easy to lie in bed listening to it, hoping on hope that he'll change his mind and just chill, when you know by getting him and putting him in our bed he'll be o.k. Or less arsey at least.

It didn't help that I had a bottle of rose to myself and didn't get into bed until midnight of course.

The food thing is frustrating and the cleft does have a little to do with it. We have to get the consistency just right: to runny and it comes out of his nose and too thick, it could get stuck. Clare's been weaning for over 2 months now and although some days are good, it's very difficult for him. The food makes him sneeze every meal time which sprays puree everywhere. Funny at first, not so much now.

Come June 18th the palate will be repaired and he will get suction for the first time in his life. This will mean he can drink from a normal bottle, use a Tommie Tippee and eat properly. All the things that others take for granted but this should make things a lot easier.

Monday 6 April 2009

Sharing stories

So Mr. Moodie, who I told you about on a previous post, regularly updates his blog from stories picked up on the web and via Smile Train, the organisation he is involved in.

I will republish some of these here starting with this one about a little girl from the Philippines, who like Pinki, was poor, uneducated and ostracised from society until the Smile Train came along. Life affirming stuff.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

The rain in Spain....

We're back! The first thing to report is that Jake was an angel, there and back. Both flights, not a whimper to be heard. I remember thinking that he must look quite cute in his pyjamas as I was carrying him through the plane - we were last on - but I'm sure everyone with a spare seat in spitting distance was thinking 'don't you dare'.

Glass half full, I'd describe the week as relaxing, warm and a welcome break. Half empty and it's more like frustrating, a bit boring and expensive.

It was kind of a week of two moods and two weather systems although not linked as you would imagine. The weather for the first 3 days was lovely, almost 22 degrees,a gentle breeze and I even managed a slight tan. Out of principle I went in the pool but it felt like diving into liquid nitrogen so got out immediately.

So while the weather was good, my temperament was less so. Firstly I was still wound up and full of work stress and secondly I was having to adjust to spending all day long with Jake, day after day. This was the longest period of time that I have done that. Even during my paternity leave, I had to come into work every second or third day and he slept most of the time then. I'm not after a medal here, I know he's my son and I should want to spend time with him, but it's a shock to the system. Clare, on the other hand, took it all in her stride as she's used to it. This is her life...everything's routine, even crying, screaming and random nappy explosions are routine. For me, anything unexpected equals stress and when you can't get away, as you are usually able to, it's hard to unwind.

This trip was always an experiment to give us the heads up on what to expect when we go to Italy in June and back to Spain in September. It's difficult though to not hanker after the experiences of previous trips now that you are unable to recreate them. We've been going to the villa for 13 years and it's my favourite place anywhere. Lovely weather, great views, wonderful food but the first part of this trip made me miss the old Spain. Not the most recent pre-Jake trips but the original Spain I remember: the Peseta one. When fags were a pound a packet and my lack of conscience / wife allowed me to smoke as many as I could. Where Bianca would wait on us at La Cucaracha, bringing tray after tray of Red Bull y vodkas and only charging us for half. Having horrendous hangovers which miraculously got better by lunch time and no cares in the world. Don't get me wrong, I was young and foolish then and have (almost) grown up now and my life is immeasurably better but suddenly Jake was in charge. In charge of everything we could and (more significantly) could not do. Whereas before, the most stressful part of the day was deciding which beach to go to, now we would have to wait until the morning nap was over, pack everything we took on holiday in the world's smallest hire car, then struggle through Jake's lunch and then, maybe go the beach and spend 2 hours holding him upright and trying to stop him eating the sand!

I'm sure anyone else who's been through the first holiday with baby experience will understand, but after having read through this, I'm not sure anyone else will.

The other issue was that our satellite system is archaic and I forgot to take a key component which would have given us a few channels to watch. Instead we watched Sky News, with their identical 15 minute bulletins, for the entire week. I did take a laptop with some films on it so we were able to turn the news off at night but some variety would have been welcome. Also Spain just got really expensive. The exchange rate meant that I got 25% less then 18 months ago and prices have gone up across the board too. Gone are the days where £300 got you a meal out every night and as much booze as you could drink.

Then, half way through the holiday the weather turned and ironically so did our mood. Clare sent me off for some 'me time' and I drove to Calpe to watch walkers climbing the Ifach and all of a sudden felt like I was on holiday. Even though the sunshine had gone, I was relaxed and feeling good. Jake's routine actually became enjoyable and I like to think he had fun on his first holiday and appreciated that Daddy and Mummy were there for the whole week.

Saturday was Clare's birthday and we had the most 'normal' holiday evening. We started at Algas, a cocktail bar with a view across the beach to the harbour and then onto the Olive Tree, our favourite restaurant. It was great to get out and even if Algas wasn't serving cocktails and my pint glass broke in my hand, soaking my jeans in beer, or having to juggle Jake and a thai green curry, it was just what we needed.

The weather never cheered up but it didn't matter and we had a lovely trip anyway. Aside from Sky News we watched a load of films and I read a great book, 'What Would Google Do?' by Jeff Jarvis. It's a brilliant book which tells the story of Google and their '10 things...' and how all businesses can and should adapt to the new online order. Adapt or die is the basic message. A lot of what's in the book resonated with me as I've been telling it to clients for years. It's good to be vindicated but I'd like to turn that into money. Smug and poor isn't the look I'm after! By comparison I remember writing here last June about the four books I read in Egypt. I think those days are over or at least numbered but actually I don't mind. I'm looking forward to when Jake nags me to build him another sand castle or buy him an ice cream or play bat and ball and THAT's when holidays will be great again.

Now, if you don't mind, there's 400 emails waiting to be deleted.